I ran into a friend this week who will be celebrating his 60th birthday in a few days. At least, I assume that he will be celebrating. We talked about the big event and what was being planned, how he intended to mark the occasion. I asked him what he would do after his birthday. “Starting working on 61,” he answered.
It’s not a bad answer. We all know the experience of looking forward to something – a birthday, Christmas, a wedding, some event. We build it up in our minds, treat it as a destination of sorts, and then the event comes and goes. We find that afterwards we have to deal with the repercussions, what it all meant, and what to do next. We discover that milestones that look like endings are really just more markers on the road.
Baptism falls into this category. We plan them (we’re having five this Sunday in fact); family makes travel plans to be here; meals and celebrations are planned; gifts and cards are purchased and wrapped. And then….it’s Monday. Life returns to “normal” and things move on. The event of the baptism turned out not to be a destination at all, just a mile marker.
Really, it’s a launching pad. Baptism begins a phase of the journey, sets us off on the great adventure of following Jesus, and starts us on The Way (as the early Christians called it). It’s hardly a destination. It is our ordination, our beginning, our starting point. We don’t stop at the font; we leave from there. Or, in the words of a hymn that we will sing this week, “at the font we start our journey.”
I had a parishioner once who, when asked how things were going, would inevitably answer “I just keep on keeping on.” It’s a good answer for the baptismal life. Something begins in baptism and we keep on keeping on from there.
We’ll talk about all of this on Sunday as we finish our “Come On In, the Water’s Fine” series on baptism by considering Acts 2:38-47 and being reminded that we “Don’t Just Tread Water.” As I said, we’ll celebrate five baptisms throughout the day and welcome new members into the life of FUMCC.
I hope to see you Sunday at the pool – the baptismal pool.
Grace and peace. rcf